Memory, Fantasy and Imagination
By Dennis Klocek 8 min read
Human neurological patterns represent a cascading hierarchy of organ responses to sensory stimuli that come from the environment. Sensory inputs through the sense organs impact the nervous system directly. The direct nerve pulses then cause secretions of hormones into the blood as secondary responses to light, sound, smell and movement. In the brain the pituitary and pineal glands are prime areas where nerve and blood interact to create hormonal secretions. Hormones often stimulate primal memory patterns flight, fight, freeze, reproduce, lactate and many others.
These patterns, inherited from early human evolution function to preserve the organism. Neurologists call these primal memory patterns picture memory. Picture memory is an unconscious substrate of conscious memory. The pictures in this form of memory are unconscious, universal and not normally accessible to the awake consciousness. Fear and doubt have their roots in picture memory. When fear of the unknown and doubt about what to do about the unknown combine as a result of an unrecognized sensory stimuli, the neuroendocrine system fires off stress hormones that keep humans moving. Not moving consciously, but moving. These cascading neurological patterns keep the human organism intact to deal with another day but do not actually resolve issues of fear and doubt. For that to happen fear and doubt responses are damped down by limbic structures that integrate primal responses into memories of previous arousal states that are biographical. Biographical memories endow the personality with the perspective of individuality. Unconscious picture memory then becomes conscious of situations of arousal prior to the experience of fear. This is an advance but also puts a shroud over the creative forces available in the more universal, soul/spiritual levels of human life that reside in the unconscious.
Too much fantasy and not enough picture memory when encountering a snake and the person may not survive the meeting. Conversely, too much consciousness dims the mystery and magic of the natural world.
A human ancestor who saw a slithering motion in the grass relied upon unconscious picture memory to automatically engage the will and flee. There was no time to parse out a zoological picture to characterize what species of snake was there in the grass. Eventually through time, snake lore became a biographical learning task when becoming an individual in a tribe. Armed with knowledge of snakes, fear and doubt were transformed into a capacity to experience the arousal of fear states and to simultaneously remember that not all snakes are lethal. The biographical memory of an arousal state provides a more harmonious response to natural phenomena. Biographical memory, initially generated by unconscious, fear driven picture memory must be transformed to a conscious level as the basis of a stable personality. Transformation of unconscious fear into conscious interest is a deed of will. Being conscious of an arousal state of fear moves memory patterns beyond the actual event and into the realm of fantasy that exists solely within an individual soul. Fantasy bridges memory forces in the soul that transition from universal unconscious responses into personal conscious responses. However bridging between conscious and unconscious memory, fantasy is a double edged sword that must be wielded carefully. Too much fantasy and not enough picture memory when encountering a snake and the person may not survive the meeting. Conversely, too much consciousness dims the mystery and magic of the natural world.
The soul challenge for fantasy as a bridging memory is to temper fantasy to come into line with observed probability events found in the rhythmic flow of phenomena in nature. The observation of phenomena constitutes the path of science. In science today tribal snake lore has become the cognitive realm of the herpetologist. However to grow spiritually a herpetologist must transcend the separating force of cognition to experience the consciousness of how the tribe got its snake lore. The ancient science was based on access to the spiritual dimensions of natural phenomena. Such a perspective would inform and expand intellectual science with insights that would reveal not just facts about nature but the spiritual roots of the relationship between humans and nature. Fantasy pictures arising from fearful picture memory need to be worked through and stabilized by the personality. A stabilized fantasy then becomes an imagination of the primal lines of development common to humans and nature. This experience verges on religious feeling. Contemporary scientific consciousness can be taken to a higher level of will by bringing reverence back into studying nature. Reverence for the spiritual dimensions of nature allows humans to understand how nature consciousness is mirrored in a human soul. Reverence for nature is the path of earth stewardship.
Contemporary scientific consciousness can be taken to a higher level of will by bringing reverence back into studying nature. Reverence for nature is the path of earth stewardship.
The sequence here is sense experience creating picture image leading to fantasy as a bridge to imagination based on biographical memory. The further step to earth stewardship requires a schooling of imagination as a path towards the redemption/ resurrection of nature. This involves a blending of human will with the will forces present in the natural world. This constitutes an esoteric path of nature stewardship based on transformed will. But what is will?
We can trace a hierarchy similar to the neurological cascade by examining the will states present in these shifting levels of consciousness. Will in this context is a motive force that drives some form of response. In picture image formation, research shows that the will behind any sensory process impacts human consciousness by setting in motion forces that regulate hormonal secretion. This means that picture forming motive force (will) comes to the organism through sensation but does not originate in the organism itself. An amoeba moving towards a light source in pond water is a primitive example of this kind of stimulus response pattern. The outer world initiates creative movements; the organisms respond. Embryology further shows that the secretions that act as the functional aspects of the endocrine or glandular system also serve as the templates for the formation of that system. With the glands being the prime meeting place for nerve and blood this fundamental principle is highly significant in the development of not only the physiology of a human but also the psychology. The glands serve as bridges between the outer and inner worlds. In the language of neuroendocrinology the secretions produced by the glands are neurotransmitters that react to stimuli but they are also neuromodulators that form the organs of the system in which they are active.
Here arises a difficult split in the road regarding social issues related to sense experiences that have already been filtered and enhanced in specific ways by prior programming. The inner imaginations that humans can tease out of sense experiences from nature are universal and continually unfolding in a creative modality. By contrast, the imaginations that result from a specifically willed set of images in a programmed sense experience are designed to influence a much more narrow set of responses.
Once hormones are in the blood the specific patterning of the cascading of the hormones is determined by biology but the personality reacting to the hormonal cascade is not. The persona exists at a higher level of will. Two people experiencing a fragrant essential oil have the same glandular responses. However one person smelling the essential oil of helichrysum italicum has fantasies of exotic places and moonlit nights another person having the same sensory input has the fantasy that something has rotted in the refrigerator. Fantasy from sensory input bridges to personality preferences. Here arises a difficult split in the road regarding social issues related to sense experiences that have already been filtered and enhanced in specific ways by prior programming. The inner imaginations that humans can tease out of sense experiences from nature are universal and continually unfolding in a creative modality. The sensations are a kind of nutritional cosmic wisdom that the glands translate for the health of the body and soul. By contrast, the imaginations that result from a specifically willed set of images in a programmed sense experience are designed to influence a much more narrow set of responses. The less than universal patterns in programmed imagery do not have the potential scope for creative response of the more universal, albeit unconscious imagery experienced in nature by the sense organization.
The issue here is the will that informs the intention at the epigenetic origin of the imagery. Imaginations from nature arise out of broad, creative spiritual will that is the formative template for the neuroendocrine apparatus of humans. Programmed imaginations lack this broad potential to support healthy endocrine responses. This restriction does not allow for the same degree of free fantasy to take place in the bridging of the sensations to the personality and soul. Soul responses present in fantasy resulting from natural sources can lead to free imaginations in the personality since they exist at the same level of organization in the organism of the perceiver as they are active formally in nature. The will levels have resonance. By contrast the organizing motives, or intent, of the will in programmed sensory imagery are not designed to engender free renderings in the fantasy life. The will in programmed imagery is designed for particular fantasy outcomes and it is only through diligent effort that humans can perceive the unconscious will contents of programmed sensations. The will of the broad designing mind of nature can lead to free deeds of imagination in a human. The will of the designated designing mind in programmed imagery is intended to lead to a particular set of imaginative responses in the perceiver.
Progressive social forces among humans require minds that are free to creatively transform raw sensory experiences and the resulting fantasy responses they engender into free imaginations that can deal effectively with unknown elements in the world at large. Without that freedom the personality is prone to resort to irrational fear of unknowns. This is especially true when the soul is inclined to accept that programmed images coming from the world at large are valid representations of universal truths. Since programmed images are not by definition universal but designed for specific outcomes, they generate mental states that through time become disinclined to distinguish universal truths. Instead, the focus is directed to the correctness of specifics in a limited context. Constant consumption of programmed images can also engender the belief that images are just imaginary things that have no power. This is a grave mistake that prohibits human access to the creative, biographical potentials of the symbolic realm. Loss of the creative power of imagination ushers in fatalistic, hive mind social processes generated by programming sequences that erode access to the greatest human gift; the free imagination of a free individual.
The pervasiveness of programmed imagery in society eventually diminishes the ability of humans to determine the integrity of imagery presented to the senses. An esoteric schooling of directly interacting with the phenomena of nature can here be of service. Inwardly engaging the rhythmic flow of morphological sequences in natural form allows the cosmic imaginations behind the biological phenomena of nature to imprint on the soul a sense of the rightness of things. The spiritual reality behind natural forms has an epigenetic morphological genius that is primal to the created world and universal in its scope. This lofty influence can easily be developed by observing a flowering plant every day for a week and then sharing your observations with a friend. These simple acts are in reality a first step in a deep schooling of the senses that is sorely needed in times of social confusion. These kinds of activities unite human good will with the creative good will constantly at work in the transformative processes of the cosmos.
Dennis Klocek, MFA, is co-founder of the Coros Institute, an internationally renowned lecturer, and teacher. He is the author of nine books, including the newly released Colors of the Soul; Esoteric Physiology and also Sacred Agriculture: The Alchemy of Biodynamics. He regularly shares his alchemical, spiritual, and scientific insights at dennisklocek.com.
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